A Look At The Financials of Major Cities

In an effort to discover the underlying workings of cities I have gone through the financials of a wide variety of cities to discover some interesting patterns.

by Quinton on March 22nd, 2013

Let me first state, my goal is to develop a city that really provides nothing. The only reason there is a need for a city is because within the current framework of our world I think it would be much easier to start a free society with property you own as opposed to property owned by the state. The goal of a city is to allow for a free society to develop. The city doesn't need to provide anything. All services can be provided privately through the free market. On to the numbers...


The cities I am looking at are:

Boston, MA http://www.cityofboston.gov/Images_Documents/CityBoston-CAFR-612_tcm3-35...
Phoenix, AZ http://phoenix.gov/webcms/groups/internet/@inter/@dept/@fin/documents/web_content/092464.pdf
Ottawa, ON https://ottawa.ca/sites/ottawa.ca/files/migrated/files/cap214801.pdf
Scottsdale, AZ http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/Assets/Public+Website/finance/Archive/FY+201...
New York City, NY http://www.comptroller.nyc.gov/bureaus/acc/cafr-pdf/CAFR2012.pdf
Los Angeles, CA http://contact.lacity.org/controller/LACITYP_024494.pdf
Las Vegas, NV http://www.lasvegasnevada.gov/files/FY2012_CLV_CAFR.pdf
Frankfort, KY

Each city is picked for a specific reason. I am trying to have a variety of different types.

Boston, MA 2012

Here are the numbers for Boston, MA.


Item Cost
Taxes: $1,841,355
Operating Grants: $574,653
Charges for services: $210,260
Grants not restricted: $188,895
Capital grants: $35,337
Investment: $13,575
Misc: $7,084
Total: $2,871,159

So check this out. The greatest source of revenue is taxes. If you read through their document you will find that over 1/2 of their tax revenue comes from property tax. I find that very interesting. Property tax generates over 1/2 of all the revenue for Boston.


Item Cost
Schools: $1,369,047
Public safety: $817,768
Property and dev: $114,753
Public works: $110,187
General gov: $108,499
Public health: $73,975
Human services: $48,103
Library: $44,526
Interest on debt: $39,798
Parks and rec: $34,651
Hospital: $2,523
Convention center: $0
Total: $2,763,830

Moving on to expenses you will find that schools is the greatest expense. Right off the bat you can wipe that out in a free society. That can be handled privately. #2 is public safety, which is police and prisons and things of this nature. Again, this can all be handled privately. In fact, if you look at everything in here it can be handled privately except, perhaps, general government. Let me explain...

Phoenix, AZ 2012


Item Cost
Charges for services: $1,266,544
Excise taxes: $722,998
Operating grants: $358,692
Grants not restricted: $297,342
Capital grants: $274,168
Other taxes: $221,390
Other: $92,653
Total: $3,233,787


Item Cost
Public safety: $850,636
Aviation: $435,675
Transportation: $421,680
Water services: $361,751
Community enrichment: $245,713
Community Dev: $218,847
Wastewater services: $178,258
Solid waste: $133,414
Interest on debt: $109,412
Phoenix Convention Center: $103,420
General gov: $88,178
Environmental services: $42,326
Criminal justice: $36,345
Golf courses: $8,879
Total: $3,233,892

New York City, NY 2012


Item Cost
Taxes: $41,982,497
Operating grants: $18,768,706
Charges for services: $4,600,078
Other: $980,491
Other Fed and state aid: $730,310
Capital grants: $594,313
Investment income: $117,608
Total: $67,774,003


Item Cost
Education: $24,957,901
Public safety & judicial: $17,077,117
Social services: $14,181,836
General gov: $4,101,933
Environmental protection: $3,456,151
Debt interest: $2,931,953
Transportation: $2,536,846
Health: $2,419,857
Parks & Rec: $1,077,230
Housing: $1,327,674
City University: $954,590
Libraries: $243,470
Total: $75,266,558


Okay, so a city is really just a business with multiple people running it. There is a big distinction that needs to be made with the way we run cities right now. Decisions in cities right now are handled by residents who vote for people to represent them. When we want something done in a city we try to get involved by electing people to do certain things. In a business the way things get done is people spend their money on things that they like. What I'm trying to say is that a business gets their votes from money while a city gets their votes not from money, but from people speaking. [move to own blog post]

So we are probably going to need

 Filed under: Location, City


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